For people who don’t need a single player mode if there are jetpacks and giant robots available.
With the large amount of hype and high number of preview awards given to TitanFall, it naturally has a lot to live up to. This goes double as it expects to do so solely online, banking on providing a new experience rather than one brimming with single player content. It seems to embody a new console generation in how it feels refreshing and new, yet it doesn’t show off graphical horsepower or introduce bells and whistles not possible on older technology.
TitanFall’s biggest strength is the variety of having both giant robots and foot soldiers (known as Titans and Pilots, respectively). These two options are opposites mechanically, with Titans being slow, bulky, and powerful while Pilots are fast and frail. The game does a good job of making Titans feel mighty, with all the Pilots and AI soldiers scurrying to fend off a Godzilla-style rampage. Fighting against other Titans feels just as epic as the battles in Pacific Rim.
Pilots in many ways control like Faith in Mirror’s Edge, as wall running and climbing up buildings is the preferred method to move around. A jetpack is added to provide a double jump, so platforming is more of a method to traverse the levels rather than a challenge in and of itself. These two aspects make simply moving around a blast, to the point where I will be missing the option to leap from rooftop to rooftop in other shooters.
At first, the idea of both Pilots and Titans seems like a scenario more unbalanced than Super Smash Bros. However, Respawn seemed to have the same concern when pitching this idea and does everything in their power to make Pilots find success amongst Titans in the battlefield. Every pilot has an anti-Titan weapon of their choice, an ability which will usually aid in escaping tight situations, and the speed and fluidity of movement to provide their own unique advantages.
While these do not initially seem to put Pilots on even footing with Titans, it soon becomes clear you’re required to fight smart, not hard. Locking on with a rocket, turning my cloak on, and running behind a Titan to start disassembling it soon became my first tactic of choice when confronted with a mechanical behemoth. The variety between methods available to take on a Titan is not incredibly high, but the game does ensure that each tactic is unique to suit each player’s preference.
Fights hardly consist of a ragtag group of Pilots against a group of powerful Titans either, as each pilot receives their own Titan after two minutes, while netting kills and dealing damage to enemy Titans shaves down a few seconds. While you can spawn inside a Titan, most of the time they drop down for you to enter, which is known as “TitanFall.” This requires you to be smart in both where and when you spawn your Titan to ensure you do not die soon after it drops. If this does happen, however, then your Titan’s auto AI will take control for you.
Graphically, this game is nothing special, but the amount of action on screen at once is enough to make up for this. The game handles all the Titans duking it out and explosions beautifully. The PC version is surprisingly versatile with its requirements as well, where even my low-end laptop, which has issues with Dead Space, could handle the game without a hitch. This is especially impressive with all the chaos that can happen at once.
Despite the 6v6 player limit, there are a large number of AI soldiers without the ability to use the Titan on both sides. These soldiers are the perfect way to help new players ease into the game as well, as they are easy to take out and allow everyone to make some contribution to the 300-point goal at the end of the game. In fact, this may be the true secret behind why TitanFall works, as it severely reduces the buffer zone between new and experienced players without punishing those with more skill.
This is very important as well, as TitanFall comes without any way to play it solo. The game offers a “campaign,” but this ends up consisting of nothing more than a few extra objectives for a match and characters talking about things you can’t focus on because the game doesn’t slow its pace to let you. All it really does is provide a slightly annoying distraction, an uncanny valley between single and multiplayer gaming.
Ironically, the whole idea of blending a narrative into the gameplay is handled much better in an epilogue after a handful of the standard multiplayer matches. The epilogue consists of the losing team escaping to a dropship while the winning team tries to stop them, either by killing everyone (who will not be revived once the epilogue starts) or blowing up the dropship. The story element was nothing more than seeing how both sides react to the battle ending, but it provides a fresh way to finish off a match. Furthermore, it can also give losing players a nice moral victory if they escape while winning players can elevate the high of a victory further by hunting down the other team successfully.
Despite a few stumbles, the game is impressively balanced to be full of memorable, unscripted moments without making those moments too easy to obtain. Grabbing a Pilot out of a Titan, taking out a Titan solo, and blasting a Pilot before they can jump into a Titan are all things that will stick with me forever. TitanFall is the multiplayer equivalent of a five hour single player game which is so much fun you find yourself replaying it countless times.